Though water quality issues are nothing new in Southwest Florida, they have been top of mind for Lee County residents in the last year. Images of dead dolphins and manatees washed up on beaches are not easily forgotten. Members of the community are calling on County Commissioners to do more to keep our waters safe for both the current and future generations.
“Our County Commissioners like to give the appearance that they are doing everything possible to address water quality, but the reality is that they are doing little more than pointing fingers,” said Don Eslick, founding member of Lee Future.
Eslick’s comment was in response to an article in the News-Press in which a commissioner laid out a plan to deal with Florida’s water quality issue. “The article seemed to be more about what the County can’t do rather than focusing on what they can do,” explained Eslick.
Eslick asked local water experts what they think the County Commissioners can and should be doing, which resulted in the following list of ideas and action steps.
Here are 7 things Lee County should be doing to improve water quality:
- Ensure advisory committees are free from conflicts of interest that could enable development of environmentally sensitive lands.
- Accelerate water quality projects that reduce contaminants and comply with pollutant load reduction targets.
- Adopt a stormwater utility with water quality objectives, such as regional treatment nodes.
- Accelerate the acquisition of conservation land that appropriately acknowledges the value of ecosystem services when prioritizing acquisition.
- Revise the Land Development Code for the adoption of meaningful transportation concurrency requirements.
- Update and adopt a sustainable future land use plan.
- Adopt a Memorandum of Understanding with the Florida Department of Health on public health issues such as notification requirements of harmful algae blooms and contaminants in surface and groundwater.
In reference to this list, Eslick stated, “There are some problems with state legislative oversight that will have to change, but these are some examples of things that unincorporated Lee County could be leading on.”
Change is possible.
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